Topic: Samuel Gompers

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Samuel Gompers (January 27, 1850 – December 13, 1924) was an English-born American labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and served as that organization's president from 1886 to 1894 and from 1895 until his death in 1924. He promoted harmony among the different craft unions that comprised the AFL, trying to minimize jurisdictional battles. He promoted "thorough" organization and collective bargaining to secure shorter hours and higher wages, the first essential steps, he believed, to emancipating labor. He also encouraged the AFL to take political action to "elect their friends" and "defeat their enemies." During World War I, Gompers and the AFL worked with the government to avoid strikes and boost morale, while raising wage rates and expanding membership.

Samuel Gompers was born on January 27, 1850 in London, into a Jewish family which originally hailed from Amsterdam. When he was six, Samuel was sent to the Jewish Free School where he received a basic education. His elementary school career was brief, however, as a mere three months after his 10th birthday, Gompers was removed from school and sent to work as an apprentice cigarmaker to help earn money for his impoverished family.

Gompers was able to continue his studies in night school, however, during which time he learned Hebrew and studied the Talmud, a process which he long later recalled was akin to studying law. While familiar with the ancient Hebrew language, Gompers did not speak and held a lifelong disdain for Yiddish.

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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Samuel Gompers."